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EqualLogic User Conference: The Virtual Era

I believe iSCSI will emerge as the dominant type of storage area network (SAN) within five years, exceeding Fibre Channel and FCoE storage in external arrays shipped by 2015. Underneath this technology transition, the interaction between leading iSCSI vendors and data center managers is where the rubber hits the road. That means Dell's EqualLogic User Conference in rainy San Diego is the perfect place to hear the market leader's vision for the future, the reaction from IT professionals, and ultimately to validate if my projections are on-track.

Tuesday was the first full day of the conference. With keynotes and technical sessions full, it appears to be very well attended. Considering how corporate travel is discouraged these days, I'm pleasantly surprised at how many storage admins from large corporations made it to San Diego.

Darren Thomas, VP and General Manager for Dell Storage, opened the conference with a presentation that defined our industry's acceleration into the Virtual Era. Unlike many presentations I've heard that fast forward to new technology, Mr. Thomas spent the better part of his keynote creating a clear, customer-driven context for Dell's vision. IT has always been used by smart corporate management teams to create business advantage, but Dell suggests that creating advantage today means deploying "real-time" IT.

Mr. Thomas described a few examples, including how his sons switched from hosted e-mail to web-mail. They switched because Google Mail and Yahoo Mail gave them access from anywhere, more mailbox capacity, and automatically checked every e-mail for viruses. He added that free, or "pay as you go" e-mail, now far exceeds corporate e-mail in capacity and service. Dell's point is that advanced cloud implementations at Google and Yahoo are agile because they're designed to accommodate constant change and because they span from back office to front pocket.

Mr. Thomas went on to describe virtualized environments that form the foundation of private and public clouds, and cited examples of how the Virtual Era will be powered by Dell. According to Mr. Thomas and Dell, the Virtual Era requires cloud-like architectures to be flexible and efficient, and what makes that possible is Intelligent Infrastructure.

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